Sunday, November 29, 2009

Motorcycles that don't Fall

So I've been toying with this idea for a very long time now, definitely more than a year. And so I far I haven't done anything about it except for writing it down on a piece of paper. But then I saw this and thought that the least that I can do is to post this on my blog. Unfortunately youtube has disabled embedded video, so you'll have to go to youtube to watch the video.

See the video before you read any further.

All right! I hope that the motorcycle terminators got hold of your attention. More interestingly I hope that you were impressed by their maneuverability, how these motorcycles/terminators skillfully tackled the obstacles, that were being thrown at them, without losing their balance.

It may seems like an act of genius, although with out a doubt it is, but the science of falling while turning is very simple. When a motorcycle is turning there are two forces acting on it; the centripetal force and the centrifugal force. Centripetal force pulls the vehicle towards the inside of the circle and the centrifugal force pushes the vehicle outside. For a perfect turn these two forces should be balanced. In other words if centrifugal forces is higher then the vehicle will fall inside and if the centripetal force is higher the vehicle will fall outside.

I hope you haven't dozed off already. OK! if you are with me till now then let me continue. :)

The challenge is to make sure that every single time someone takes a turn, or in case of the terminator motorcycles dodging objects at 50mph, these forces remain balanced. Meaning that these forces remain equal an opposite to each other (remember Newton's 3rd Law of Motion?). Because this mismatch of the forces will make the motorcycle to lose its balance. And this usually happens so quickly that by the time the rider realizes that he's about to fall he actually falls.

So what are the factors that are governing these forces and affecting the fall? Well, there are 2 factors namely ; speed of the motorcycle and the radius of turn. That means to prevent a motorcycle from falling or to ensure that the forces acting on a motorcycle are balanced while turning all we need to do is tweak these two factors.

All we actually need are a couple sensing device and a couple of actuating devices that can perform the following functions:
a. A sensing device to measure the radius of turn (we already have that kind of device - it's called lean angle sensor - all FI bikes have it as a standard regulation but for a different reason.)
b. Speed sensor (all motorcycles have a speedometer)
c. An actuating device that will control the front wheel of the motorcycle. (meaning it will increase or decrease the radius of the turn by bypassing the rider and turning the front wheel based on requirement) - this thing needs to be invented
d. An actuating device that will control the speed of the vehicle (meaning it will increase or decrease the speed by bypassing the rider based on requirement)
e. And of course a small computer that would interpret and analyse the data sent by the sensors and direct the actuators to perform the action in micro-milli-seconds.

So how will this work? Well, I'll explain that later, the post has become too long already.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Red Chilly Powder

My First ffffuuuu comic. This is partially based on personal experience. Meaning only the second block is true. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Homecoming Part 2

continuing from where I had left a few days back...

6. Church: Thanks to Arvind, Karisa and their friend Jessy, for a brief period of time, I had good fellowship in a small church. The service was almost similar in structure to which I was accustomed to back in India. The people were very friendly, the atmosphere in the church was very warm and cozy and I did make a few friends there but unfortunately I didn't attend the church regularly enough and when after a gap of about 6 months I went there they had moved from there location. They should have updated their website at-least but they didn't and so I lost them. Later I started attending another church but it was more of a rock club called Committed Japan with Bible on the menu. There Sunday service was held in a coffee shop called Kick-Back Cafe (Sounds rocking! doesn't it? No, it's not.)

7. Autumn: To me autumn is much more beautiful than spring or sakura (in Japanese). Unfortunately I don't have autumn pictures to share right now. My current residence (notice the usage of word 'residence' and not 'home') in Sailer Komatsugawa (Higashiojima Metro Station) is located very close to Arakawa river and Nakagawa water canal. Arakawa has a very famous (and by famous I mean - It's a tourist attraction during spring season) Sakura tree belt on its banks whereas Nakagawa has clusters of Autumn trees on its banks (not famous). The scenic beauty of the trees on the banks Nakagawa in Autumn is beyond comparison with the what Arakawa has on offer during spring.

I always firmly believe that memories are not about places, it's about people and the experiences that you get to share with them. For me, unfortunately, Japan has been more like a place where I got to spent 2 years of my life but didn't get to share the experience. Anyway, it'll be over soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Homecoming Part 1

Very soon I'll be back in India and Japan will fade into the memories of the days gone by. Overall I can say that this has been a mixed bag. I've missed my family, my church and friends. And the work on most days wasn't exciting. But there have been some things that I've liked and some that I'll miss in when I am back in India.

1. The first one without a doubt is Shinkansen (or the Bullet Train) - It is an engineering marvel. Just the fact that you're sitting in a vehicle that's moving at 300kph on land is amazing. I had a great desire to sit in the cockpit and see how it feels when everything seems to be coming at you at that speed, well may be later. You can check out the video that I had recorded at Nishi Akashi (Kawasaki Headquarters). I am really sorry that when Arvind came to Tokyo I couldn't take him on a trip in Shinkansen.

2. Mt. Fuji Trek - I took about 15 hrs to climb on top of Mt. Fuji last summer. From the foot to the peak Mt. Fuji is about 3700 mts. And I started trekking from Station 5, which is about 2300 mts. I know, I took too long to reach the top but the crater of a volcano is one of the coolest things to see. Japanese don't climb Fuji to see the crater rather they climb Fuji to see the sunrise at 3700 mts. For me, it wasn't great.
(Regret - I wish I could've seen some lava flowing or at least some toxic smoke coming out of the crater.)

3. Sushi and Wasabi- Yup the lethal combination of raw fish and the stingiest spice of the world. If you haven't eaten Sushi till now, take my word you've really missed something. And Sushi bars are amazing, I mean for all those of you who know and have heard about JIT systems or The Toyota Way, a Sushi Bar is the epitome of all the principles that are being taught in the institutions and are being practiced by organisations all over the globe.

4. Fireworks - If you ignore the journey to and the return back from the place where these firework festivals take place and a million people who come to the show, the fireworks are are a treat to the eye. You can check out the link and see a few pics of the fireworks but it's no where close to what I'm talking about.

5. Konami - Swimming and gyming were the reasons I had joined the club but I've made some really good Japanese friends there. Most people think that Japanese are introvert people and mind there own business. Yes, that's true but what's also true is that these people are really loving, friendly and helpful. I won't say they are funny because I don't get their sense of humor.

It's a bit late now, rest later...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I think that Labour unions are like cancer to the industries. Honda Motors and scooters India (HMSI) has been a 'victim' (notice the inverted commas - I'll come to this later) such labour unrest where the productivity of the factory has been severely hampered, which affects sales, which affects profits and which ultimately affects the salaries. And I think these unions are basically fighting for the increase in salaries. A simple relation that the unions have failed to understand. My complete sympathies for the management.

But this is just one side of the coin. What about the labour side? Frankly, I don't know the real issues that the labour unions of HMSI are facing. And actually this post is not about the labour issue of HMSI. It's about the company in which I am working. I won't disclose the name of my company but by the HMSI example one can fairly guess that I too am in a related industry (but I'm not working in another OEM).

My company made severe cost cuts in the name of recession in the beginning of this financial year. Stripping away the basic necessities such as Air conditioning in office space, stationary, allowance for mobile phones, transport in case someone had to make an official visit. Every new hiring now requires approval from the the M.D. Which has basically compelled the managers to force their employees to stay late night. Sometimes the employees are working for the entire night, then they go back home in the morning, freshen up and return to work (without overtime). Some of these cost cuts were not focused on actually cutting the expenses normally incurred by the company but were more or less cheap tricks to take out money from the employee's pocket. Apart from cost cuts, the company also introduced monetary penalties on its employees for delay in meeting a deadline.

Now somebody might say that it's justified keeping in mind that our focus should be on greater things, that we need to keep on going and survive this critical period and later things will return to normal. But wait till I tell more.

The marketing team of my company was in tremendous pressure from the management to get better prices from the OEMs. Since the volumes were 'supposedly' going down and the profits were decreasing. The marketing team worked hard and got better prices. Soon after that the raw material prices came tumbling down. As you might remember the crude oil prices that were over $150 per barrel same time last year are now around $50 per barrel. Almost the same thing has happened with all the other raw material prices globally. So now we have a situation where we are selling the goods at a higher price whereas our raw material costs are down by over 30%.

It's still justified, don't you think, considering that the volumes are down and the fixed costs are the same. Yes it is justified.

But, how about the fact that the volumes are much better. Maruti, Tata, Honda, Hero Honda, Bajaj, Yamaha and many other OEMs have in fact registered significant growth over the previous year in India in-spite of the on going recession.

There were some increments in the company recently at operator level and junior staff level. But they are like peanuts when you see the overall scenario. Management says that there will be no further increments. Reason - What if the recession comes back?

So basically at the end of this year all the hardwork, sweat, talent of passionate employees will get converted into serious money and will will go in one man's pocket. Coming back to the part where I had said that HMSI is a victim. Now if I consider a similar story in HMSI also, can I really say that HMSI is a victim?